Associated with Hortus botanicus Leiden

Plant and eater

To widen the reach of BigPicnic activities in The Netherlands, Hortus botanicus Leiden has invited other botanic gardens and a museum to work together. On 17th September, they will taking part in the Future Food event at Utrecht Botanic Gardens (one of the partner gardens). There will be a new flyer presenting the activities of the gardens/museum on plants and food.

Plant and Eater illustrationThis is illustration will be used by all members of the group. Photo credit: DoubleMatured. 

In The Netherlands, 25 botanic gardens are part of the Dutch Society of Botanical Gardens. In 2017 a five year project ‘Plants for the Future’ is finishing and it will take time to find funding for new projects. For that reason the gardens do not have a collective theme for 2018. Hortus botanicus Leiden invited the members to focus on plants and food, to spread the BigPicnic activities throughout the Netherlands. 

11 gardens joined, and 1 museum that specialises in tree growing. The museum will, on our request, have an exhibition on agroforestry. All the gardens will do their own activities related to plants and food. In some gardens there will be tours and lectures, in others the whole year’s theme is plants and food. There is exchange of funds between the gardens, they share knowledge, materials, speakers for lectures, ideas and work together in a co-creation group. This group, mostly educators, meet every 6 weeks. 

In Leiden we have some experience working this way. In 2016 we had an exhibition about Japan which we developed with 6 gardens and the museum. This turned out to be very fruitful. For example we found that activities that are on more than one location will get more attention from the national press.

We can see the benefits of working together again already.  Next month, the groups will present at the Future Food fair in Utrecht, where science and public meet in a science café like setting. We will hand out recipe booklets with information on BigPicnic, and flyers presenting all the partners. The flyers will be used by all participating organisations throughout 2018. You can download them from the resources section of the BigPicnic website. We will also have the opportunity to talk to visitors about their concerns and fine tune our plans for 2018.

As well as the stand at the Future Food event, the group may have the opportunity to present BigPicnic and associated activities in a book being written about plants and health. We are also talking to a green supermarket who we already work with in Leiden but we may now be able to scale up this activity nationally.

We will promote these activities through the Dutch Society of Botanical Gardens website. On here you can find the Plant Finder database. The Plant & Eater gardens will fill this database with information on food plants that can be found in their collections.